The new year symbolizes a clean slate. People often take the opportunity to create elaborate, and usually difficult-to-stick-with, New Year’s resolutions. As a business owner, I decided to come up with a list of simple resolutions to help fellow business owners prepare for a happy and successful year ahead. See if you can incorporate one — or all — of these easy and painless objectives:
1. Be happy.
With a quick Google search, you’ll find many articles on the “keys to happiness.” But as a business owner within the wealth management industry for the past two decades, I have been fortunate to meet thousands of people from all different walks of life. I can tell you that the happiest people I meet are those who are grateful for what they have, present in the lives of their family and friends, and take the time to focus on both their mental and physical health and well-being. Take some time in the coming months to focus on gratitude, being present, and nurturing your body and mind.
2. Get organized.
There’s a professional organizer in town who you’ve probably heard of, named Marie Kondo. She offers inspiring tips and tricks for staying organized and suggests that we judge possessions by whether they “spark joy.”
As a business owner, it’s good practice to do this not only with possessions, but with everything. This can include relationships, contractors, processes, workflows, technology, etc. If something is not sparking joy, that means it’s not working and should be revised, reevaluated or removed altogether. Is there old paperwork you’re holding on to that you’ve been meaning to shred? Do you need a new system for paying bills on time, or perhaps an updated budget for 2020? Is your work-life balance more imbalanced than you would like it to be? January is a perfect time to employ an innovative method for organizing both your possessions and your business.
3. Learn something.
One of the best parts of being a business owner is our inquisitive nature. Read a new book. Listen to a podcast. Take an online course. You never know where the next big idea or new client will come from. Plus, from medical and psychological standpoints, education can help improve performance on various tasks and has even been associated with preventing dementia.
4. Be (digitally) present.
Over the past two decades, I’ve witnessed the financial industry shift from in-person education and networking events to webinars and LinkedIn connections. We have transitioned from calling clients on their flip phones to e-mailing them on their smartphones, from faxing important documents to sending them electronically. If you’re a business owner without social media sites, or worse, without a website, this is your year to be digitally present.
Whether you’re selling a product or service, you can be sure that your customers are going to research you before they make a purchase. What they see online has become your first impression, so it’s important that you make it a good one. If you’re not very tech-savvy, consider outsourcing to a digital marketing company or freelancer or even hiring a new employee. Being digitally present doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, but it has become a true necessity in the world of business.
5. Fund your future.
The new year is the perfect time to look toward the future. Consider adding to or setting up a retirement savings plan. As a business owner, the benefits of creating a retirement plan include significant tax advantages, attracting and retaining better employees, and contributing to the plan to save for your own retirement.
Although setting up and administering a retirement plan can be a difficult and time-consuming task, you have the option of working with a financial advisor, who can demonstrate the various options and find the right plan for you, your business and your employees. Business owners are constantly being pulled in different directions, and trying to prioritize can be difficult. But having a 401(k) is something that’s worth your time and energy, and your future self — and employees — will thank you.
Setting small, short-term goals for the new year is an excellent way to create momentum, and it can help set the tone for the next 12 months.